First Woman President of HBCU Miles College is a Lawyer and Former Utility Executive
In 2019 lawyer Bobbie Knight was appointed as the first woman president of Miles College in Alabama. She was initially appointed as interim president and then in 2020 she was appointed as the permanent president. The College has extended Prior to her appointment she had retired in 2016 as an executive of the Alabama Power Company where she spent 37 years in various leadership roles including Vice President of the Birmingham Division, Vice President of Public Relations and General Manager of Supply Chain. Knight considers one of the highlights of her corporate career as being selected, “…as one of 21 women worldwide for the acclaimed Leadership Foundation Fellows Program of the International Women’s Forum. This program afforded her the opportunity to study at Harvard University and the Judge School of Business at Cambridge in the United Kingdom.”
In announcing a contract extension, the Board of Trustees Chair noted about Knight, “Her strategic approach to goal-setting, her extensive corporate experience, and her warm and engaging personality are assets that have already benefited the college. We look forward to new initiatives that she will launch to assure Miles College students receive a quality education and college experience.” According to a news article so far, “During Knight’s tenure as president, the college has experienced two consecutive years of enrollment increases. Also, under Knight’s leadership, the college has had an increase of over 500 percent in private gifts and more than 1100 percent in public and foundation gifts. The college also increased its endowment to an all-time high and has been rated one of the top 10 most fiscally stable Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the nation.”
Knight is accessible and dedicated to the Miles College students, encouraging them to text her and to reach out on social media, describing herself as a mother figure or even grandmother figure for those who many not have the privilege of that relationship at home.
President Knight had been appointed to the Miles College Board of Trustees in 2017. Membership in Boards of Trustees has been another pathway for lawyers to the campus presidency, and indeed that was how Knight was tapped. She is CEO of her own company, Bobbie Knight Consulting, and is chair of the Board of Managers for the Birmingham Times Media Group and currently treasurer of the Birmingham Airport Authority (she also served as vice chair and chair).
She earned her JD from Birmingham School of Law. She also completed Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management Executive Leadership Program.